Moline aims for another WB6 title; Charleston, NCOE look strong downstate

Moline has enjoyed a strong showing in the Great Lakes Summer League. continues its coverage of the 2018 Illinois girls high school season with another set of team previews.  

School: Andrew 
Conference: Southwest Suburban
Head coach: Emily Connolly        
Last season’s highlights: 12-15 overall, lost to Sandburg 25-14, 25-17 in a Class 4A regional semifinal.
Top returnees: 5-10 junior outside hitter Brianna Haggerty, 5-7 junior libero Kylie Adams.
Coach’s quote: “We have a very young but talented group that has been playing together at the varsity level for two-three years now. We will be small in the setting position so will be running a 6-2.”  
Did you know? Kylie Adams and Brianna Haggerty been on the varsity team since they were freshmen.

School: Charleston
Conference: Apollo
Head coach: Justin Tomaska
Last season’s highlights: 10-21 overall, 2-10 in conference, lost to Mattoon 18-25, 25-23, 25-12 in a Class 3A regional semifinal. 
Top returnees: 6-foot sophomore Kat Blase, 5-9 junior outside hitter Kaleigh Wilson, 5-10 junior outside hitter Kayla Rotramel, 5-9 junior outside hitter Rainer FullerMoore, 5-6 junior setter Abby Kallis.
Coach’s quote: “We return 14 varsity letter winners … everyone but our starting setter from last year. With almost everyone returning, we look to compete against any team this year. We have played tough competition all summer and have already beaten defending Class 2A state champion St Thomas More in its summer league.”
Outlook: Mahomet-Seymour led by All-American Savannah Matthews, Mattoon and Summerlyn Smith, and Mt. Zion and Charleston should all battle for the conference title.
Did you know? Junior Rainer FullerMoore lives in a house in Charleston where Abraham Lincoln once stayed. The home still has remnants of the pre-Civil War era stored in the basement.

School: Chicago Christian
Conference: Metro Suburban (Red)
Head coach: Karen Van Assen  
Last season’s highlights: 32-6 overall, 12-0 in the Metro Suburban Red, lost 22025, 25-19, 25-20 to Aurora Christian in a Class 2A sectional final.  
Top returnees: 6-2 junior outside hitter Lia Moore (Michigan State), junior outside hitter Maddie Dryfhout, senior libero Leah Robinson.
Top newcomer: Freshman rightside hitter Logan Grevengoed.
Outlook: Chicago Christian’s conference schedule includes St. Francis, IC Catholic Prep and Aurora Christian. The conference competition should prepare the Knights for the Class 2A state tournament.
Did you know? Logan Grevengoed is the daughter of Richards’ boys volleyball coach Troy Grevengoed.

School: Dakota
Conference: Northwest Upstate Illini
Head coach: Kim Toelke
Last Season Highlights: 21-16 overall, 8-5 in conference, lost 25-12, 25-13 to Galena in a Class 2A regional final.
Top returners: 5-11 sophomore outside hitter/setter Tabytha Toelke (320 kills, 198 assists, 159 digs), 5-8 junior outside hitter Kaylyn Field (91 kills, 114 digs), senior defensive specialist Kasey Sutherland (119 digs), 5-8 junior outside/opposite hitter Grace Sutherland, 5-8 senior middle hitter Alayna Yoder.
Top newcomers: 5-8 junior setter Laura Rankin, 5-6 junior defensive specialist Lexi Evenson, 5-9 junior m idle/opposite hitter Raven Knox, 5-7 senior middle hitter Casey Besse, 5-3 junior defensive specialist Kenzie Foulker.
Coach’s quote: “We have a talented group of juniors coming up. There are some holes to fill with the loss of so many seniors last year, but these girls seem very determined to get Dakota volleyball back in the running. They have been working very hard over the summer on getting stronger and quicker. We are not going to be big in size, but hopefully we can be big in heart and find a way to win the close ones.”
Outlook: The Upstate Illini Conference will  be loaded with defending Class 1A third-place finisher Durand, Forreston, Lena-Winslow and Dakota.

School: Moline
Conference: Western Big 6
Head coach: Mike Ducey
Last season’s highlights: 26-7 overall, 9-1 in conference (conference co-champs), lost to 25-22, 25-23 to Normal Community in a Class 4A regional final.
Top returnees: 5-7 senior setter Bella Mitchell, 5-3 junior libero Maddie Peterson, 5-11 senior middle blocker Megan Pittington, 5-6 senior outside hitter Becca Ehlers.
Top newcomers: Middle blocker/rightside hitter Ella Ramsay.
Coach’s quote: “We hope to contend for a conference title and make a strong postseason run.”
Outlook: Anyone who has watched Moline in the Great Lakes Summer League knows the Maroons will be a solid team out of the Quad Cities and a strong challenger to Quincy in the Western Big 6. But Moline has some big shoes to fill with the graduation of Molly Tauke, Lacy McMillon, Alannah Crompton and Megan Meyer.

School: Mt. Pulaski
Head coach: 
Donna Dulle
Last season’s highlights:
17-19 overall, lost 25-17, 25-19 in a Class 1A sectional semifinal to eventual state champion Payson-Seymour.
Top returnees:
5-9 senior outside hitter Abigail Fitzpatrick (led team in passing and digs), 5-9 senior outside hitter Skylar Hayes (led team in kills and aces), 5-9 senior middle hitter Morgan Hayes, 5-8 senior rightside hitter Madison Thomas, 5-4 senior libero Savanah Moore, 5-10 junior middle hitter Paige Stewart, 5-8 junior rightside hitter Leah Beckers, 5-5 junior setter Isabella Wade.
Top newcomers:
5-6 sophomore setter Chloe Olson, 5-9 freshman middle hitter Cassidy Clark.
Coach’s quote:
“We have a very experienced team with more offense this season.”
Mt. Pulaski has reached the state finals 12 times and won two state titles, but the Hilltoppers are looking for their first trip to Normal since 2012. Could this team break that mini-drought?  
Did you know?
Abigail Fitzpatrick recently committed to Southern Illinois University.

 Norris City-Omaha-Enfield    
Conference: Greater Egyptian Conference 
Head coach: Jaclyn Melton         
Last season’s highlights: 29-4 overall, 10-0 in conference, first at the Norris City-Omaha-Enfield invite and the Carrier Mills tournament and second at the Marion tournament, lost to Cobden 25-17, 11-25, 25-22 in a Class 1A sectional final.
Top returnees: 6-foot senior middle blocker Halle Everett (school’s all-time kill leader), 5-10 junior middle blocker (and third-year starter) Emilee Bishop.
Top newcomers: Sophomore outside hitter Evie Duncan, sophomore outside hitter Sophie Neal, sophomore setter Mattie Wells.
Coach’s quote: “Our goal is to win the conference and compete in a sectional final.”
Did you know? Halle Everett and Emilee Bishop combined for more than 400 kills when Norris City-Omaha-Enfield went 28-8 and finished fourth in Class 1A in 2016.  

School: Pekin
Conference: Mid-Illini
Head coach: Yvonne Thompson
Last season’s highlights: 30-8 overall, 10-3 in conference, lost 25-22, 25-21 to Edwardsville in a Class 4A sectional final.
Top returnees: 6-foot senior middle hitter Anna McGovern, 5-9 junior outside hitter Emma Clark, 6-foot junior rightside hitter Jenna Taphorn.
Top newcomer: 5-7 junior setter Logan Finneran.
Coach’s quote: “I believe we should be in top four in conference and definitely hope to advance just as far or further in the state tournament.”
Outlook: Pekin, which graduated all-everything Hannah Thompson, will battle Limestone and Morton for Mid-Illini supremacy.

School: Prairie Ridge 
Conference: Fox Valley
Head coach: Stefanie Otto
Last season’s highlights: 27-8 overall, 12-4 in conference, lost 22-25, 25-22, 27-25 to state semifinalist Crystal Lake Central in a Class 4A sectional final.
Top returnees: 5-11 setter Jayden Otto, 6-1 outside hitter Olivia Annen, 5-11 outside hitter Hannah Baudin, 5-10 middle blocker Maddie Mcguire, 5-11 opposite hitter Trinity Sheridan.
Top newcomers: 6-3 middle blocker and Notre Dame recruit Sammi Lockwood (injured in 2017), 5-5 defensive specialist Alexis Kanter, 5-6 defensive specialist Anna Tulke.
Coach’s quote: “We expect to contend for a conference, regional and sectional championship.” Outlook: Prairie Ridge, Huntley and Crystal Lake Central are the favorites in the perennially tough Fox Valley conference.  
Did you know? Trinity Sheridan and Huntley’s Taylor Jakubowski were teammates on the Sky High Adidas 16 Black team that qualified in the Open division of the 2018 USAV Girls Junior National Championships in Detroit, Michigan.

School: Resurrection College Prep
Conference: Girls Catholic Athletic Conference (Red)
Last season’s highlights: 34-9 overall, 5-0 and conference champions in the GCAC White Division, won the Harvest Christian invite, won the silver division at the Peggy Scholten Classic, reached the Class 3A championship game before falling to Belleville Althoff 25-16, 25-23.
Top returnees: 5-9 senior setter/outside hitter Christina Gatta (104 aces, 714 assists, 165 digs), 5-10 senior middle hitter Emily Nytko (92 kills, 66 blocks), 5-11 junior outside hitter Caitlin Coughlin (178 kills, 40 blocks), 5-10 junior rightside/middle hitter Isabella Bongiorno, 5-9 senior outside/rightside hitter Gabriella O’Hehir.
Top newcomer: 5-10 junior outside/rightside hitter Taylor Crawford.
Outlook: Resurrection graduated seven seniors from last year’s team, including kill leader Brittany Welch (New Mexico State). The Bandits also move up to the Red division of the GCAC where Mother McAuley lies in wait. A schedule that includes Marist, Niles West, York and Harvest Christian Academy will test the young Bandits, who are expecting Caitlin Coughlin to lead the team in kills and Nytko continue to be the dominant force at the net after leading the team in kill percentage in Normal. Can Christina Gatta top the 104 aces she served last season? 

School: Western    
Conference: Pike County Conference and West Central Conference (South) 
Head coach: Anna Hechler        
Last season’s highlights: 13-19 overall, 8-6 in conference, lost 25-12, 25-6 in a Class 1A regional semifinal to eventual state champion Payson-Seymour.
Top returnees: Senior libero Aftyn Harrison, senior setter Chloe Mellon, senior outside hitter Tori Predmore, senior outside hitter Haylee Smith.
Top newcomers: Junior setter Haleigh Conkright, sophomore outside hitter Haley Flores.
Coach’s quote: “This season should be about connecting as players and taking it to the next level. We only lost one senior from last year, so our team isn’t changing much. It will be about putting everything together. The girls already feel comfortable playing together.”

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